Testing out Arcteryx’s new Atom SL Hoody (£170). Super light at just 235 grams and compact enough to fit in a pocket, this is an efficient and reliably warm mid layer. But is it worth the hefty price tag?
Filming in Wales: There’s no denying the Atom is a pleasure to put on. This sleek hoody has the magical ability so elusive in outdoor gear of making you forget you’re wearing it – zip it up and it will sit snugly against a baselayer and feel flexible and forgiving whatever you’re up to. I wore mine for the first time on a freezing winter day filming abseiling scenes in Wales and was convinced of its insulating power – you can immediately feel the warmth the Atom generates when you’re still but it isn’t restrictive or too hot when on the move, making it ideal for stop-start sports like climbing, trail running and snowboarding.
Skiing: I was most impressed by the Atom when out skiing in Tignes. When the warm sun disappeared suddenly and a snowstorm approached I slung it on under my jacket and the difference was immediate. In freezing swirling sleet it was an efficient barrier from the cold and insulated well even when damp. The adjustable hood adds an extra level of protection and, unlike most hoods I’ve tested out, it actually stays on reliably, keeping rain and snow off your face with a water resistant peak.
Verdict: Comfortable? Definitely. Great performance? Absolutely. Value for money? I’m not so sure. I’d agree that the Atom is well designed, sleek and a pleasure to wear (more colours here), and it’s become my go-to midlayer for cold weather. It’ll probably wear it alone on spring climbing trips, glacier ski days and autumn hikes. But £170 for a mid layer is painful, especially when it isn’t waterproof. If you’re planning a week of bouldering or a summer trekking expedition then I’d plump for the Atom, but if you just need a warm layer to stick under a down jacket you could get away with something cheaper.